The Man Behind the Music: Mr. McCloskey

Mr.+Matthew+McCloskey
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The Man Behind the Music: Mr. McCloskey

Mr. Matthew McCloskey

Mr. Matthew McCloskey

Mr. Matthew McCloskey

Mr. Matthew McCloskey

Lauryn Parker, Staff Reporter

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Mr. McCloskey (Mr. M) is the choir teacher here at at West, and whether you have taken one of his classes, seen him setting up the mics and sound systems for all the events we have at school, or said hello to him standing outside his room in the hallway, he is a very familiar face. But, why don’t we get to know the man behind groups and projects such as our Concert Choirs (I,II), Bel Canto, Masterworks, Vocal Ensemble, Men’s & Women’s Choir, and the annual musical.

Mr. McCloskey has been working in the district for 30 years, teaching at the original Lionville Junior High, the Ninth Grade Center, and finally West beginning in ‘03. He went to West Chester to earn his Bachelor’s of Science in Music Education and his Master’s in Music.  McCloskey said that what motivates him to be a teacher is “watching kids learn, improve, and be successful.”  Though his original dream was to be an attorney, he ultimately chose teaching over law.  Why?  “The process of watching people understand, succeed and excel beyond that… Each day is never boring; working with kids is much better than working with adults. Plus, it was something I was good at and enjoyed doing.”

Mr. M’s duties extend beyond teaching music classes during the day.  He is also responsible for casting and running the music in West’s annual musical production. For those who wonder what goes into the casting process, Mr. M provided some insight: “First, I pick the right show for the kids, then see what everyone brings to the audition, and finally see where they fit best. Sometimes there are surprises (good and bad).”  Without a doubt, his favorite West musical was Les Miserables.

Anyone who has taken a class with Mr. M appreciates the relaxed environment he promotes in his classroom. Mr. M shared why he prefers a laid-back approach to teaching, saying, “I had a lot of choir teachers that tried to be intimidating, and I believe you don’t sing better in that environment.” After some thought Mr. M also shared, “Our job as teachers is to take care of the students first… problems arise as [some teachers] don’t know when they should let the kids be independent.”  Ultimately Mr. M lives by the rule that “happy kids always improve,” and it is obvious that, as he says, the most rewarding part of his job is, in his opinion, “the kids’ success.”

I have taken classes with Mr. M since ninth grade. Not knowing what to expect from choir and how it would differ from middle school, I was surprised by how they are two different worlds. In Mr. M’s class we do more than just sing; I have been taught more life lessons in his class than anywhere else. I was prepared for the college application process last year, because he often spoke in class to seniors about where they should be within the process. In his classes, I have made lifelong friends which feel more like a family, creating memories in the choir room and the choir office with all the shenanigans we get into. Mr. M has impacted my life in many ways; he has created a safe place in the school for many kids, and he has truly played a huge part in helping me to become the person I am today.

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